Kauai Mayor Vetoes Popular Ordinance Safeguarding Public from Pesticides

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Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho

REPORT FROM EARTH JUSTICE – Today Kauaʻi Mayor Bernard Carvalho, Jr. vetoed a crucial Kauaʻi City Council ordinance that passed on a 6-1 vote after a 19-hour, emotion-filled city council meeting last week.

The bill requires companies that use more than five pounds or 15 gallons of restricted-use pesticides annually to reveal the chemicals they use. The bill also requires a 500-foot buffer zone near medical facilities, schools and homes, among other sensitive locations, and requires disclosure of the type and location of any genetically engineered plants being grown. Mayor Carvalho justified his veto by claiming the measure was legally flawed, and therefore might be struck down in court.


The ordinance has gotten the backing of many residents who have been exposed to dust and dangerous pesticides. Earthjustice attorney Paul Achitoff and George Kimbrell, senior attorney with the Center for Food Safety, sent a letter to the mayor urging him to approve the legislation. The letter states that both lawyers are prepared to intervene on behalf of community groups to defend the bill if any companies challenge the bill in court. Both Earthjustice and Center for Food Safety submitted extensive legal analyses to the Council supporting the measure’s legal basis.

“The mayor has turned his back on thousands of Kauaʻi residents who came out in droves to support this ordinance,” said Earthjustice attorney Paul Achitoff. “Kauaʻi residents are exposed to pesticides at every turn – their homes, their schools, their gardens, their hospitals. It’s outrageous the mayor has chosen to disregard their health and instead pander to industry. The excuse that the County lacks authority to enact the ordinance doesn’t wash.”

Earthjustice is a non-profit public interest law organization dedicated to protecting the magnificent places, natural resources, and wildlife of this earth, and to defending the right of all people to a healthy environment.